The average human spends about a third of their life asleep. And while more and more individuals are mindful of what they eat, where their clothes come from, and the potential environmental impact of their lifestyles, most people are more likely to take a stand against the sourcing of their eggs than origins (and components) of their bed sheets. But if we really do spend up to 25 years (gulp) of our lives in our beds, why aren’t we more concerned with the products we place on them?
Enter Buffy. In August, the two-year-old, direct-to-consumer New York-based home goods company launched its naturally dyed eucalyptus sheet sets that come in blush pink and two shades of gray (white sheets were already available). Dyed with an ultrasonic methodology that uses sound waves to penetrate the surface molecules of fibers, the sheets’ color comes from natural plant sources including pomegranate, walnut, gardenia, turmeric, and tea.
“We had an event recently where the [appetizers] and drinks included the ingredients we dye the sheets with,” says Buffy founder Leo Wang. Wang’s family has been in the textile business in China for more than 30 years, and armed with years of industry knowledge (both what works and what needs innovation) he launched Buffy in 2017 with an environmentally friendly comforter that uses less water and produces less waste to manufacture than its typical cotton competitors. The comforter and its matching sheet set (made primarily from extremely sustainable eucalyptus fibers) both came in white and were made without bleach or dyes. For Wang, the launch was more than just a continued step in the family business—it was an attempt to embrace sustainability in an industry where it was lacking, and prove to consumers that the products were as good as, if not better, than what was already on the market.
“We live in a consumerist society and it’s going to be very hard to change that,” he says. “So in a world evermore threatened by climate change, we need to relearn how to consume and change those habits.” It doesn’t mean don’t buy things, but rather be more conscious of what you’re buying and the impact that has. “Making sheets and comforters from cotton is very water exhaustive,” Wang continues. “The process can use anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 gallons of water. With a eucalyptus-based material, you can use up to 10 times less water. We [estimate that] we’ve saved around 100 million gallons of water.”
As for the color shift, Wang notes that the company didn’t want to start out with the typical indigo-dyed route, opting instead for softer hues that reflect high-end trends, but also go with a variety of aesthetics. Later this fall they will add blue and light blue options as well.
“We’ve all been wrapping ourselves in chemicals every single night,” Wang says, referring to the often chemically dyed options on the market. “Consumers are starting to demand better. About 20 percent of us make a point of shopping sustainably. The other 80 percent will ask if a ‘sustainable’ product is as comfortable as what they have or ask if it’s worth the money. We’re trying to break through those assumptions and show them that yes, it absolutely is.”
Buffy is hosting a dye-your-own-pillowcase event this Saturday, September 7, at the University of Washington’s Botanical Gardens Douglas Headhouse. Tickets and information here.